Public Research for Public Good

Here at UMBC, our research and creative achievement initiatives are guided by our motto and guided by our strong commitment to interdisciplinarity.  It reflects the focus of our faculty and students across basic, translational, and applied research areas: we thrive on the opportunity and experience for our work to have a direct impact on the communities we partner with, by facilitating a deeper intercultural understanding through our arts and humanities scholarship, and by furthering our knowledge across a spectrum of science and engineering fields.

The Division of Research and Creative Achievement (ORCA) serves as an advocate for UMBC’s research and creative achievement community, ensures access to key research infrastructure, and supports our faculty, staff, and students in their pursuit of research, scholarship, and creative achievement across all levels.

Established in 1966, UMBC has risen from modest beginnings, with some of our initial external research awards secured in the early 1990’s. Today, UMBC is a Doctoral University with Very High Research Activity – also known as Carnegie R1 – as designated by the 2021 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, placing us among the top 146 research universities in the Nation.

Our Motto – Public Research for Public Good – exemplifies how UMBC’s research impacts our lives and communities and unravels age mysteries of our universe while preparing a diverse new generation of scholars.

Please see our latest publication Inquiring Minds’ – celebrating UMBC’s Research & Creative Achievement for a more detailed introduction of the breadth and depth of RCA activities underway in our UMCB community.

According to the current 2022 NSF’s Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) survey, UMBC ranked #107 in federal research & development expenditures among public institutions and #151 among all U.S. research universities.

During FY 2023, UMBC faculty submitted over $400 million in extramural funding applications and secured $139 million in new extramural awards.  Campus-wide annual Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) expenditures reached an all-time record of $144 million in FY 2023, including $87 million from U.S. federal funding sources – reflecting an increase of 71% over the past three years.

We are proud of our top rankings in federal support – #16 in NASA funding, #33 in Geosciences, Atmospheric Sciences & Ocean Sciences, #44 in Social Sciences, and #55 in Computer & Information Sciences, and #58 in Physical Sciences – according to the NSF HERD rankings for FY 2022.

We build on the inherent strengths in our vibrant, interdisciplinary, and collaborative research culture, with a strong nationally recognized reputation for integrating undergraduates in mentored research. Our key research and creative achievement themes are well aligned with regional and national priorities – environmental & space sciences, data sciences & national security, health & life sciences, education, and equity and social justice.  Each of these key themes benefits from an inclusive approach, by taking into account civic engagement, social sciences, ethics, public policy, and other important considerations to provide a comprehensive solution.

Our faculty are recognized nationally and internationally, most notably with the election of Dr. Michael Summers in Chemistry and Biochemistry to the National Academy of Sciences in 2016, and over 50 of our faculty members recognized as fellows in their professional societies, one of the highest honors bestowed by peers within the scientific community.

We are especially proud of the success of so many of our early career faculty members, including six NSF CAREER Award recipients in 2023: Mercedes Burns in Biological Sciences, Tyler Josephson in Chemical, Biochemical & Environmental Engineering, Deepak Koirala in Chemistry & Biochemistry, Chenchen Liu in Computer Science & Electrical Engineering, Deepa Madan in Mechanical Engineering, and Sanjay Purushotham in Information Systems. These six are joined by Lujie Karen Chen in Information Systems in 2024; Dr. Cynthia Matuszek in Computer Science & Electrical Engineering and Dr. Omer Çapraz in Chemical, Biochemical & Environmental Engineering in 2022; Dr. Lauren Clay in Emergency Health Services and Dr. James Foulds in Information Systems in 2021; and three recipients in 2020: Dr. Naghmeh Karimi and Dr. Ramana Vinjamuri in Computer Science & Electrical Engineering and Dr. Jianwu Wang in Information Systems, bringing our recent total to 14 CAREER Awards to UMBC faculty since 2020, and a total of 50 awards to UMBC faculty since NSF first introduced the CAREER program in 1995.

These are just a few of the major recognitions of our faculty over the past few years.

Our strategic location between Baltimore, MD and Washington, DC — in close proximity to major national labs and key industry leaders — positions us well to establish and grow long-term, sustainable partnerships and help create the highly educated workforce needed for tomorrow’s economy.

Our research and incubator park – bwtech@UMBC – is located adjacent to the campus, comprises 525,000 square feet, including 40,000 square feet in wet lab space, houses over 110 tenants providing almost 2,000 direct jobs and operates incubators for cybersecurity, for biotechnology & GovTech.  Launched in 1989, bwtech@UMBC was the first university-affiliated incubator in Maryland.

We hope this Research & Creative Achievement at UMBC site will be a frequent destination for you – our external partners, the campus community, and the broader communities we serve.

As our Nation and the international community face environmental, technological, political, economic, and social challenges, UMBC’s core values of diversity, inclusive excellence and innovation will propel us forward to meet these challenges.

Please contact us to explore how we can achieve even more together.

Karl V. Steiner
Vice President for Research & Creative Achievement
Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Affiliate Professor, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering